Now that you have chosen your flat, your flatmates and signed the tenancy agreement, you can start thinking about moving in to your flat. Here are some things to think about before you move in:
What’s happens to the bond I gave the landlord/property manager?
When you give your landlord the bond you should also fill in a Bond Lodgement Form. Your landlord/property manager is legally obliged to send the bond to Tenancy Services within 23 working days of receiving it.
How will I know this has happened?
Tenancy Services will notify you once they have received your bond. They use the information on the Bond Lodgement Form to contact you. They will also tell you the number for your bond.
What if I haven’t heard anything?
The bond may not have been lodged or your contact details were wrong on the bond lodgement form. Phone the Tenancy Services Bond Line – 0800 737 666 to check.
What if they haven’t lodged my bond?
Talk to OUSA Student Support. All bonds are legally required be lodged within 23 working days. Landlords can be fined up to $1000 if they don't.
Where can I get more information on bonds?
Changing a tenancy
As a result of changing circumstances and friendship groups, you might want to get out of a tenancy situation.
Am I legally allowed to move if I don’t want to live in my flat anymore?
You can only move if you have permission from the landlord to find a replacement for yourself (‘assign’ the tenancy). Most landlords/property agents will allow this.
A tenant can’t assign their tenancy if there’s a specific clause in the contract that forbids them from doing so. Your flatmates would be liable if you just move out and stop paying rent without finding a replacement.
They could take you to the Disputes Tribunal to get their money back.
What do I need to do once I have approval from the landlord?
Find your replacement. You must take into consideration the remaining flatmates' needs. Remaining flatmates can’t be obstructive and refuse everyone just to spite you.
Word of mouth, Facebook pages like ‘Otago Flatting Goods’, the University Accommodation site and TradeMe are all places to advertise your room.
Once you have found someone, the remaining flatmates and landlord/property agent need to say yes too.
What do I when I have found someone to replace me?
When you replace yourself on a lease it is called ‘assignment’.
The new person takes over your responsibilities under the tenancy agreement.
Once everyone agrees on the new person, the change must be recorded in writing by filling in a Change of Tenant Form. This form must be signed by the landlord and all the remaining tenants. The bond will be changed into the new flatmate’s name.
What if I don’t do the paperwork?
You will still be legally responsible for paying rent and the condition of the house at the end of the tenancy.
This could end up costing you a lot of money and huge amounts of stress and hassle. This can be easily avoided by doing the paperwork and making sure you are truly free!
As a tenant, you have no obligation to attend a flat initiation. The landlord/property agent makes the decision over offering tenancies not the current occupants.
As a student you are bound by the University of Otago’s Code of Conduct which states “some of the behaviours that put you at serious risk of facing exclusion from the University for a semester or more...organising or participating in any initiation event or ceremony that jeopardises your fellow students’ well-being, personal, physical or emotional safety, or encourages breaking the law. Organising or participating in initiations requiring the consumption of alcohol or the use of any drug are strictly forbidden. The statement by any student that they willingly participated will not excuse the organisers of responsibility.”
Some flats come with power and/or wifi included in the rent payment. If your flat doesn’t here, shop around for the best deal. These links may help with choosing the right provider:
How to keep your flat warm while keeping the power bills under control
It is the landlord’s responsibility to insure the property but you should also organise contents insurance for your personal belongings. Speak directly to insurance companies to get the best quote for your circumstances.
Disagreement over money is one of the most common causes of conflict between flatmates. These websites provide information on how to sort financial issues out early and budget effectively:
Moving in day
A day of excitement. OUSA suggest that before you move any of your belongings into the flat you take a video of the whole property. Make a list or add details to the entry inspection report from your landlord if they gave you one (they are supposed to).
List ALL and ANY damage, wear and tear, mould, rubbish, dirt, stains or less than perfect things are ALL recorded in detail.
This means at the end of the year you will not be held responsible for any of these.